Vancouver/Fraser Canyon/Big Bar — In April, Fisheries and Oceans Canada undertook fisheries management measures to protect at-risk Fraser River Chinook salmon in response to significant conservation concerns.
The recent landslide near Big Bar, north of Lillooet, has created a significant barrier to fish passage and is presently blocking most of these same Chinook from migrating upriver to spawn. At present, only a small percentage of spawning salmon are able to get over and reach spawning areas.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), in partnership with the Province of British Columbia, regional First Nations leadership, and external experts have been working around the clock to assess all options and, as an initial step, have decided to implement temporary fisheries management measures.
The following additional measures build on measures announced in April, and will be put in place for marine recreational fisheries in southern BC that are scheduled to open for limited Chinook retention on July 15, 2019:
A new maximum size limit of 80 cm for Chinook retention in the areas where Chinook retention is to open on July 15. This will help avoid impacts on larger at-risk Fraser Chinook that are having greater success migrating past the landslide.
The size limit will be in effect from July 15, with a reassessment of the measure on July 31. At the end of July, the vast majority of the at-risk Fraser Chinook should have migrated past these areas into the Fraser River. Please refer to the Department’s website for specific measures in your area.
Additionally, to ensure the maximum possible number of Chinook salmon that have managed to pass through the Big Bar landslide barrier successfully reach their spawning grounds, DFO will be working with First Nations in these areas to minimize Chinook harvests above the slide site.
Management plans and restrictions for First Nations Food Social Ceremonial fisheries already in place below the landslide will not be affected.
These measures will be in place on a temporary basis, depending on further assessments of how many fish are able to get past the slide site and on the success of any measures taken.
The emergency measures announced today represent an unquestionably difficult decision in terms of the impacts these measures will have for First Nations communities who rely on Chinook as a food source and for recreational fish harvesters. However, the potential for permanent loss of these Chinook populations represent a greater threat to the livelihoods of all those who depend on salmon for sustenance and economic opportunity as well as for the wildlife that depend on them as a food source.